Once upon a bureaucrat: Exploring the role of stories in government

Article by Thea Snow: “When you think of a profession associated with stories, what comes to mind? Journalist, perhaps? Or author? Maybe, at a stretch, you might think about a filmmaker. But I would hazard a guess that “public servant” would unlikely be one of the first professions that come to mind. However, recent research suggests that we should be thinking more deeply about the connections between stories and government.

Since 2021, the Centre for Public Impact, in partnership with Dusseldorp Forum and Hands Up Mallee, has been exploring the role of storytelling in the context of place-based systems change work. Our first report, Storytelling for Systems Change: Insights from the Field, focused on the way communities use stories to support place-based change. Our second report, Storytelling for Systems Change: Listening to Understand, focused more on how stories are perceived and used by those in government who are funding and supporting community-led systems change initiatives.

To shape these reports, we have spent the past few years speaking to community members, collective impact backbone teams, storytelling experts, academics, public servants, data analysts, and more. Here’s some of what we’ve heard…(More)”.

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